Science needs freedom to flourish. That counts for research in general and for each individual scientist. The Leopoldina is member of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies, which aims to help persecuted scientists. It has created its own Human Rights Committee, which focuses on human rights in science as well as bioethical questions.
The Human Rights Committee (HRC) was established in 2001 and consists of members of the Leopoldina from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The current chairman is Professor Hans-Peter Zenner. In 2003, the HRC joined the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (The H.R. Network). As a member of the Network, the HRC assists scientists and scholars, students and their lawyers around the world who are subjected to repression, mainly by writing letters to high rank government officials and sometimes visiting imprisoned scientists and scholars.
In some cases, the HRC organized medical assistance for seriously wounded Syrian medical personnel to be treated in German university hospitals. The HRC organizes the symposium “Human Rights and Science” on a regular basis to debate human rights aspects and bioethical questions in science and to discuss worldwide cases of scientists and scholars who are victims of human rights violations.